Domestic / 24 March 2018, 6:32pm / Cricket Writers
The Titans moved themselves into pole position to annex the Sunfoil Series title ahead of the final day of the domestic season on Sunday.
With the first two days of their match with Knights washed out at Supersport Park, the two teams agreed to limit their first innings to 40 overs per side on Saturday – shrinking the opportunities for bonus points, but also extending the time available to achieve a positive result, which both teams needed to increase their chances of claiming the major first class prize in the domestic game.
It was the home team who played and executed with greater aggression and accuracy, picking up seven wickets before the Knights declared on 169.
That gave the visitors 1.38 points for batting, while the Titans picked up three for bowling.
In their reply, the Titans, thanks to some bruising hitting from Heino Kuhn – 86 off 82 balls – and Heinrich Klaasen (84 not out off 56 balls) powered to 269/3, gaining a hefty 3.38 points for batting, while the Knights managed just the one point for bowling.
In addition, and equally crucially perhaps given that a win is really the only chance they have of lifting the trophy, the Titans also held a 100-run lead when their agreed declaration occurred.
Buoyed by that advantage, an effervescent Chris Morris, who bowled well throughout the day, claimed the wickets of Luthando Mnyanda and Keegan Petersen off consecutive balls in the first over.
Despite the spectacular hitting from Kuhn and Klaasen, the highlight of the day’s play came in the sixth over of the Knights’ second innings when Malusi Siboto dismissed Grant Mokoena thanks to an amazing catch at short leg by Rivaldo Moonsamy.
Moving to his left as the rib tickler from Siboto reached the batsman, Moonsamy still had to put in a dive before clutching the ball – an athletic, brilliantly judged effort, reminiscent of some of the spectacular catches taken in the same position by Englishman James Taylor two seasons ago.
By stumps, David Miller (36*) and Rudi Second (21*) had settled some of the concerns in the visiting dressing room, but at 62/3, the Knights still trail by 38 runs.
* In Potchefstroom, the Cape Cobras have a lot of work to do on Sunday if they are to force their way towards victory against the Highveld Lions.
The home team, thanks to a marvellous innings of 122 by Rassie van der Dussen, notched up a useful first-innings total of 325 on Saturday, giving themselves a healthy lead of 108 runs.
It was Van Der Dussen’s third century in this season’s Sunfoil Series and would have been cause for great frustration for the visitors, who came into the match second on the log.
Just about the only good element for the Cobras was the fact that they picked up the four bonus points for bowling, giving them a total of 6.34 for the match.
But they will have to bat quickly on Sunday and set the Lions something gettable to try and force a win for themselves.
They will resume on 106/1, trailing by two runs, with Andrew Puttick, playing his last first-class match, on 42 not out and Zubayr Hamza unbeaten on 46.
* In Durban, the Warriors ended the third day on 245/3 against the Dolphins, as they looked to maintain their position at the top of the Sunfoil Series table.
The men from Port Elizabeth were frustrated by rain for the first two days, and even the third morning start was delayed by a session as umpires waited for a sticky pitch to dry out.
When they did take the field, the Warriors hit the ground running, with opener Gihahn Cloete blazing a 77-ball century.
The visitors scored at a frantic pace – over a run-a-ball for the first 20 overs – but then slowed into the final session of play.
The slow left-arm of Senuran Muthusamy brought control to a Dolphins attack light on experience, without the likes of Robbie Frylinck and Mthokozisi Shezi, while Andile Phehlukwayo played as a batsman.
Cloete was dismissed for 105, while fellow opener Edward Moore chipped in with 39. Skipper Jon-Jon Smuts was 38 not out at stumps.
The Warriors will have to get creative on the final day if they are to conjure up the result they need to secure the four-day title.